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Disability Hearing: Your Right to Appeal

The Social Security Administration or SSA provides services to help people who are in need. The SSA administers various programs that provide benefits to certain people. Such programs include the Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI and the Supplemental Security Income or SSI.

The Social Security Disability Insurance, also known as SSDI, gives benefits to individuals and some family members who have worked for a certain period of time and have paid Social Security taxes.

The Supplemental Security Income or SSI provides benefits to individuals who are aged, disabled, or blind and have limited or no income at all.

Disability Review

If you are receiving benefits from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will review the condition of your health now and then to make sure that you are disabled and qualified to receive benefits.

In general, if your disability prevents you from going to work or your medical condition hasn’t improved, you will continue to get benefits from the SSA.

The review process is intended to provide you with the opportunity you need to prove that you are still disabled and to ensure that the benefits you get are not stopped incorrectly. All the significant evidence about your medical condition will be evaluated completely. Furthermore, if you have more than one disability, the SSA will take into consideration the combined result of all the impairments on your capability of working.

Even though every case undergoes the review process, there are still instances in which an individual disagrees with the decision of the SSA. For instance, the SSA may decide that an individual’s condition has already improved and should not continue to receive benefits but if he/she believes otherwise, that individual may appeal the decision.

Appeals Process

The appeals process has four levels. Normally, you have a period of 60 days to appeal in each level.

The four levels include:

  1. Reconsideration

    In reconsideration, your case will be reviewed independently by people who do not have anything to do with the first decision. A disability hearing officer will decide your appeal.
  2. Hearing

    If you disagree with the decision in the reconsideration level, you may ask for a hearing that will be carried out by an administrative law judge or ALJ who do not have any part in the first decision or the reconsideration decision.

    Usually, the hearing is held within 75 miles of your residence. The administrative law judge will inform you of when and where the disability hearing will be held.

    Prior to the disability hearing, the SSA might ask you to give additional evidence and to clarify the information regarding your claim. You can check information in your file and provide new ones.

    During the hearing, the administrative law judge will interrogate you and your witnesses that you bring, if any. Other witnesses, like vocational or medical experts, may give information at the disability hearing as well.

    After the disability hearing, the administrative law judge will decide based on all the information provided in your claim (this includes any new information given). The Social Security Administration will then mail you a letter and a copy of the decision of the judge.
  3. Appeals Council

    If you still disagree with the decision of the administrative law judge on the disability hearing, you may request for a review of the judge’s decision by the Appeals Council.
  4. Federal Court

    If you are not satisfied with the decision of the Appeals Council and you still disagree, or if the Council chose not to review your claim, the last level of appeal is to bring your case in a federal court.

Getting Help

Filing an appeal can be complex, especially if you are undergoing emotional difficulties, it is wise to ask for help from an attorney who specializes in cases of handling disability hearing and other situations under the Social Security appeals process.

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